Bullpen Report: September 17, 2017

On Friday, with the Royals leading by one over the Indians, Ryan Buchter pitched a scoreless sixth (with one strikeout), Trevor Cahill pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth (walking three), and it was Mike Minor who pitched a scoreless ninth with three strikeouts to earn his first save of the season.

The first two batters due up in the ninth for the Indians were right handed, and the next two were switch hitters, so the lefty Minor’s appearance in the ninth didn’t appear to be a matchup-based save opportunity. With Kelvin Herrera‘s struggles and Brandon Maurer’s difficulties with runners on base, there’s opportunity for fresh blood in the ninth, and it could very well be Minor who gets the most save chances down the stretch. He’s probably worth an add for those desperate for last-minute relief help.

Jake Diekman notched a save for the Rangers on Sunday, walking one. He entered in relief of Matt Bush, who allowed a solo home run and a single in the eighth before being lifted with one out. Keone Kela struck out two in a scoreless seventh. The Rangers’ bullpen has been highly volatile this season, and there remains a sense of uncertainty with just two weeks left in the season. Alex Claudio, Tony Barnette, Bush, Kela, and Diekman are all possible candidates to close, and several have been used recently in save opportunities. Claudio has had an outstanding season, and remains the most likely long-term favorite for the job. That being said, all of the other names above seem to be in play. It’s a situation to watch on a day-by-day basis.

On Friday, the Angels’ Blake Parker entered in the eighth in relief of Cam Bedrosian, who had loaded the bases with no outs. Parker induced two sacrifice flies and notched a strikeout, and he went on to record a two-inning save with three strikeouts. In that same game, Yusmeiro Petit pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh with two strikeouts. Then on Saturday, Petit struck out two in the ninth with the Angels leading by two to notch his fourth save, with Cam Bedrosian pitching a perfect eighth.

It looks as though Petit and Parker are the main candidates to close out games for the Angels, but consistency has long been elusive with this bullpen. Parker’s peripherals remain excellent, so he’s the most ideal candidate to target in fantasy leagues. Petit is having a very nice year as well, and could conceivably get a few more save chances (and holds) down the stretch.

Raisel Iglesias didn’t pitch in back-to-back save opportunities on Saturday and Sunday after picking up a 1.2 inning save on Friday. Michael Lorenzen picked up the (three-run) save on Sunday, and left-hander Cody Reed retired the only batter he faced to notch a one-run save on Saturday. Kevin Shackelford had started the ninth and struck out one and allowed a solo home run and a walk before he was lifted in favor of Reed to create a lefty-lefty matchup with Gregory Polanco. Iglesias is still the closer in Cincinnati (and a dominant one at that), but his absence over the weekend went unexplained and could indicate a possible injury. Most likely everything is fine, but stay tuned for updates.

The Rockies bullpen reared its ugly head on Sunday. Pat Neshek, Jake McGee, and Scott Olberg couldn’t hold a two-run, eighth-inning lead against the Padres in which they had two outs and nobody on. In a tie game in the ninth, Greg Holland struck out two but allowed an earned run on a hit and a walk. His second-half struggles have been well documented, and they continued on Sunday. Don’t expect any big changes, but the Colorado ‘pen could be leaking oil as they enter the home stretch.

David Price struck out two in two innings of relief on Sunday. It was his first bullpen appearance since 2010 and the first time he’s pitched since July 22nd. According to this report from Mass Live, Price will pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs. He may find his way onto the grid at some point if he pitches well, but he clearly won’t challenge Craig Kimbrel for save opportunities any time soon.

Brian Deunsing held onto a one-run, eighth-inning lead for the Cubs despite loading the bases with two outs. He struck out Matt Carpenter and nearly tripped while celebrating the accomplishment.

Other closer activity on Sunday: Alex Colome allowed one hit as he notched his MLB-best 45th save. Cody Allen allowed a hit and a walk but struck out three over 1.1 innings to notch his 28th save. Zach Britton walked one and allowed one hit but struck out two over 1.1 innings to secure his 15th save. A.J. Ramos allowed a hit and a walk and struck out one in a non-save situation with the Mets leading by four in the ninth. Blake Treinen walked one and struck out one en route to his 11th save. Ken Giles allowed three singles but struck out two in the ninth with the Astros leading by six. The victory clinched the AL West for the Astros. Wade Davis allowed one hit (and a long flyball out that ended the game) to finish off a one-run victory and earn his 31st save. Brad Hand struck out one in a perfect ninth to notch his 18th save.

Note: Updates to come (if necessary) with one game still in progress.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
ARI Fernando Rodney Archie Bradley David Hernandez
ATL Arodys Vizcaino Jose Ramirez Sam Freeman
BAL Zach Britton Brad Brach Mychal Givens
BOS Craig Kimbrel Addison Reed Matt Barnes Carson Smith
CHC Wade Davis Pedro Strop Carl Edwards Jr.
CWS Juan Minaya Danny Farquhar Gregory Infante Nate Jones
CIN Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen Kevin Shackelford Drew Storen
CLE Cody Allen Andrew Miller Joe Smith
COL Greg Holland Jake McGee Pat Neshek
DET Shane Greene Alex Wilson Joe Jimenez
HOU Ken Giles Chris Devenski Luke Gregerson
KC Mike Minor Brandon Maurer Scott Alexander
LAA Blake Parker Yusmeiro Petit Cam Bedrosian
LAD Kenley Jansen Brandon Morrow Pedro Baez
MIA Brad Ziegler Kyle Barraclough Drew Steckenrider
MIL Corey Knebel Anthony Swarzak Josh Hader
MIN Matt Belisle Trevor Hildenberger Alan Busenitz
NYM A.J. Ramos Jeurys Familia Paul Sewald
NYY Aroldis Chapman David Robertson Dellin Betances
OAK Blake Treinen Chris Hatcher Liam Hendriks
PHI Hector Neris Luis Garcia Adam Morgan
PIT Felipe Rivero Daniel Hudson A.J. Schugel Joaquin Benoit
STL Juan Nicasio Tyler Lyons John Brebbia Trevor Rosenthal
SD Brad Hand Kirby Yates Phil Maton
SF Sam Dyson Hunter Strickland Cory Gearrin Mark Melancon
SEA Edwin Diaz Nick Vincent Marc Rzepczynski Tony Zych
TB Alex Colome Tommy Hunter Steve Cishek
TEX Alex Claudio Matt Bush Jake Diekman
TOR Roberto Osuna Ryan Tepera Dominic Leone
WSH Sean Doolittle Brandon Kintzler Ryan Madson

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]

Ben Kaspick is the host Locked On Giants, a daily podcast focused on the San Francisco Giants. He began writing for FanGraphs' RotoGraphs in 2016, and also contributes for SB Nation's Beyond the Box Score. Follow him on Twitter @BenKaspick.

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Joakim Soria is back and looked sharp for the Royals down one in the 8th today (he allowed a walk with no strikeouts, but that was more a function of Angel Hernandez having no idea where his own strike zone was or even what a strike zone was for). Is he back on the board as a holds guy, or do you think Yost will wait on him?

…on second thought, probably not. His command and off-speed stuff was good, but he was down about two ticks on his fastball. He muscled up and threw, but never got harder than 92. Might be premature to add. My mistake.